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USDA Agricultural Research Service Poultry Units

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has a robust research program that includes studies of all aspects of poultry including research into poultry health, nutrition, and housing, egg and meat safety and quality, and poultry production efficiency. Here are the ARS units performing research relevant to poultry.

Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory

10300 Baltimore Avenue Building 200, Room 217, BARC-East
Beltsville MD 20705

The mission of the Animal Biosciences and Biotechnology Laboratory (ABBL) is to develop the knowledge and technology to improve the genetic, reproductive and feed efficiency of livestock and poultry by the application of functional genomics and proteomics. Research emphasis includes: identification of genes and their products responsible for nutrient intake and utilization; development of stem cell lines and enhanced nuclear cloning technologies; optimize transgene integration efficiency and fabricate candidate antimicrobial genes; enhance embryo, fetal and neonatal development and survival; improve semen cryobiology and storage techniques and develop alternative strategies for germplasm preservation.

Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

10300 Baltimore Avenue Building 10140, Room 103
Beltsville MD 20705

The mission of the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory is to reduce disease in livestock and poultry and to lessen the transmission of zoonotic parasites to people. To do so, we study parasite biodiversity, development, genetics, genomics, and transmission, and seek vaccines and management strategies, based on the physiological and immunological responses of animals to such parasites, to mitigate health risk and economic loss.

Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory

4279 East Mount Hope Road
East Lansing MI 48823

The mission of the Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory is "to provide leadership in solving current and future problems in neoplastic and other viral diseases of poultry using basic and applied multidisciplinary team approaches thereby benefitting the poultry industry and consumers." The Unit continues to apply biotechnology together with traditional technologies to solve practical problems in the control of poultry diseases, particularly Marek's disease and avian retrovirus infections. The unit is also leading the national research effort to map the chicken genome, which should improve disease control and poultry production through modern techniques for genetic selection and breeding.

Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit

Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center
950 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

The mission of the Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Unit is to study antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic food borne pathogens and commensal bacteria. Epidemiology, microbiology, risk factor analysis, and molecular techniques are used to: 1) gain an understanding of the prevalence of resistance among food borne pathogens and factors which may affect the development and persistence of resistance in production facilities and in the environment, 2) study the molecular mechanisms that are associated with the development of resistance, and 3) define the role of commensal bacteria in the development and transfer of resistance. The veterinary arm of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System - Enteric Bacteria (NARMS) is also located in our Unit. This program is a multi-agency endeavor involving scientists from the USDA - ARS, FDA - Center for Veterinary Medicine, USDA - FSIS, USDA - APHIS, and the CDC. The goal of the program is to track the development of antimicrobial resistance in veterinary isolates as it arises and disseminate the information to all stakeholders in an attempt to arrest the development and spread of resistance, especially among food borne pathogens. The results generated by these endeavors will enhance our knowledge of antimicrobial resistance and provide the scientific data that is critically needed to direct research among the scientific community and to develop policy in a number of agencies, including the USDA and FDA.

Egg Safety And Quality Research Unit

South Atlantic Area
950 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

The mission of the Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit is to protect both the health of consumers and the marketability of eggs by conducting research to develop improved technologies for egg production and processing that reduce or eliminate microorganisms that can transmit disease to humans or cause spoilage. Among the specific objectives of this research are determining how microbial pathogens infect poultry and cause egg contamination, understanding how poultry production practices can influence such infections, developing effective methods for preventing infection of egg-laying poultry by pathogens and for testing to detect infected flocks and contaminated eggs, and improving egg processing practices to reduce microbial contamination while enhancing egg quality.

Endemic Poultry Viral Diseases Research Unit

934 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

Our mission is to conduct basic and applied research on avian metapneumovirus, enteric viruses of turkeys and Marek's disease herpesvirus. The goal of our research program is to produce new research knowledge and technology to: 1) provide science-based solutions to minimize productivity and economic losses from domestic poultry diseases; 2) determine through molecular epidemiology the source for disease outbreaks; 3) determine biological and molecular virulence characteristics of these viruses with the goal of minimizing their impact; 4) develop practical and improved diagnostic tools; 5) develop or improve vaccines and vaccine delivery methods; 6) determine the role of immunity during infections; 7) determine the effects of secondary infections on the development of disease; 8) develop engineering systems for reducing transmission and development of disease.

Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit

934 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

Our mission is to conduct basic and applied research on avian influenza, Newcastle disease, West Nile and other exotic and emerging viruses of poultry and other birds. The goal of our research program is to produce new research knowledge and technology to: 1) provide science-based solutions to exotic poultry diseases that inhibit international trade in poultry and poultry products; 2) understand the pathogenesis of these viruses in poultry; 3) determine through molecular epidemiology the source for disease outbreaks; and 4) improve our understanding of the mechanisms for transfer of zoonotic viruses from birds-to-man.

Food and Feed Safety Research Unit

2881 F&B Road
College Station TX 77845

The mission of the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit is to: 1) develop cost-effective means to prevent Salmonella and other enteric pathogens in poultry, swine, cattle, and other livestock through use of competitive exclusion and management strategies, and develop an increased understanding of competitive exclusion through microbial ecology; 2) identify and isolate immune cytokines from poultry and other livestock to control Salmonella and other enteric pathogens and develop cytokine gene transfer technology for use in ovo in poultry to improve the immune responsiveness at the time of hatch; and 3) identify occurrence of microbial resistance to enteric non-pathogens and pathogens transmitted via food animals under various antimicrobial regimens and develop practical recommendations to prevent the development of drug resistant pathogens.

Food and Feed Safety Research Unit

1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard
New Orleans LA 70124-4305

The mission of the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit addresses priority areas of food safety, health and nutrition, and is directed towards (1) using a genomics approach to gain understanding of the genetic regulation of aflatoxin biosynthesis; (2) characterization of compounds and genes governing production of the antifungal compounds for use in applications to control toxin-producing fungi or other fungi that reduce the quality and safety of food and feed; (3) elucidation, using genomic and proteomic tools, of the complex mechanisms governing expression of genes/enzymes which regulate aflatoxin synthesis during the plant-fungus interaction; and using this knowledge to enhance host-resistance against fungal invasion; (4) manipulation of agroecosystems involving complex interactions between the toxin-producing fungus, other endemic microflora and the crop plant (particularly as affected by climate change) to reduce levels of fungus and/or toxin in field environments; and (5) integration of research information into practical procedures for assuring a safe, domestic supply of food and feed; and enhancing global food security through sustainable agriculture.

Food Animal Environmental Systems Research Unit

230 Bennett Lane
Bowling Green KY 42104

Develop and evaluate management practices and treatment technologies that protect water quality, reduce air emissions, and control pathogens at animal production facilities, manure storage areas, and field application sites. Research will be problem solving and environmentally sound considering the unique problems associated with karst topography in the region. Solutions are expected to be effective, economically reasonable, and managerially realistic for the farmers and the livestock producers. It is also expected that the research results will reduce potential hazards to the public without undue economic hardship to the farmers/producers.

Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit

1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard
New Orleans LA 70124-4305

The mission of the Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit is to develop technologies that will optimize the nutritional, functional, and sensory qualities of agricultural commodities, thus, enhancing their utilization. A multi-disciplined team of scientists are meeting these challenges by: 1) obtaining a basic biochemical understanding of the interactions of food components attributed to flavor (development and deterioration), and functionality of the food and its individual components, 2) scientifically defining and measuring sensory quality in foods before and after processing, 3) designing cost-effective, environmentally-acceptable processes for converting foods and their separated components into value-added products, and 4) developing technologies for predicting and assessing the nutritional, sensory, and processing quality attributes of foods.

Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Unit

Eastern Regional Research Center
600 Mermaid Lane
Wyndmoor PA 19038

Research is conducted to protect the health of the public through the development and validation of novel process interventions to improve the safety and shelf-life of foods. • Determine the incidence and prevalence of microbial contaminants in food • Develop and validate non-thermal and advanced thermal intervention technologies to improve the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, shell eggs, and produce • Transfer these novel processes and procedures to our customers and stakeholders.

Livestock Behavior Research Unit

125 South Russell Street
West Lafayette IN 47907

The mission of the Livestock Behavior Research Unit is to develop scientific measures of animal well-being, through the study of animal behavior, stress physiology, immunology, neurophysiology, and cognition, that will allow an objective evaluation of animal agricultural practices. This method of study will allow the improvement of existing practices and invention of new practices that can enhance animal well-being and increase animal productivity. In addition, this unit will use and develop its knowledge of stress physiology and animal behavior to address concerns of pathogen contamination of livestock carcasses due to the stress of handling and transportation. The optimization of animal well-being will assist in improving animal health, increasing productivity and decreasing human exposure to dangerous pathogens.

National Animal Disease Center

P.O. BOX 70, 1920 Dayton Avenue
Ames IA 50010

It is the mission of NADC to conduct basic and applied research on selected diseases of economic importance to the U.S. livestock and poultry industries. The goals of the research mission are to produce knowledge and technology to reduce economic losses from infectious, genetic, and metabolic diseases to the livestock and poultry industries and the associated rural agricultural community, to reduce or eliminate pre-harvest contamination or infection of livestock and poultry with food-borne human pathogens, and to prevent suffering and death caused by diseases in agriculturally important livestock and poultry.

Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit

Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center
950 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

The mission of the Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit is to develop technology to diminish and control the association with and colonization of chickens by human bacterial enteropathogens (i.e., Salmonella and Campylobacter). The research addresses all phases of production from the egg to the processing plant so that chickens can be delivered to processing plants with reduced or no Salmonella and Campylobacter minimizing consumer exposure to enteropathogens. The research program is carried out with four research projects.

Poultry Production and Products Safety Research Management Unit

University of Arkansas, O-303 POSC
Fayetteville AR 72701

The mission of this Management Unit is to investigate ways to reduce the impact of poultry production problems in turkeys and broilers, ensure a wholesome product for the consumer, and reduce the negative environmental impact of poultry production.

Poultry Research Unit

P. O. BOX 5367
Mississippi State MS 39762

The mission of the Poultry Research Unit is to improve poultry health and to improve poultry production efficiency. Disease, engineering, management, nutrition, and rearing environment research are conducted with a multi-disciplinary approach. Poultry health research is directed toward Mycoplasma infections with emphasis on identifying the infections, measuring the losses caused by the infections, and developing technologies to reduce the losses. Poultry production research strives toward reducing costs and improving efficiency which includes the major cost factor in poultry production – nutrition- and also acquiring and applying basic poultry house environmental data to developing systems for maintaining optimum poultry housing conditions. The staff includes an agricultural engineer, an immunologist, two molecular biologists, a research poultry physiologist, two research poultry scientists, and a veterinary medical officer.

Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center
950 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

The mission of the Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit is to research issues affecting the quality and safety of poultry and other agricultural products and develop commercially-viable systems relative to stakeholder needs in both industry and government by: - detecting physical and chemical quality attributes of foods, feeds, and their byproducts with nondestructive methods including dielectrics, spectroscopy, and sensory, - detecting physical, biological, and chemical contamination of foods and processing streams with rapid optical methods.

Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory

934 College Station Road
Athens, Georgia 30605

Our mission is to provide scientific solutions to national and international exotic, emerging and endemic poultry viral diseases through a comprehensive research program emphasizing basic and applied research in diagnostics, prevention, and control strategies, prediction of disease outbreaks, molecular epidemiology, and understanding disease pathogenesis. The goals of our research program are to produce new research knowledge and technology to: 1) prevent, reduce or eliminate losses from impaired performance, and increased deaths and condemnations; 2) develop more sensitive, specific and faster diagnostic tests; 3) improve vaccines, and vaccine delivery methods; 4) improve our understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of viruses at the wild bird-domestic poultry interface; and 5) improve our understanding of the genetic and pathobiological basis of virulence. This research provides government regulatory agencies and the poultry industries with improved intervention strategies against poultry viral diseases. The Laboratory has two research units: 1) Exotic and Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research Unit, and 2) Endemic Poultry Viral Diseases Research Unit.